This Handbook is intended to provide practical guidance on the
antitrust laws to people involved in trade and professi onal ass ociations
and attorneys who counsel or represent associations or t heir members.
The antitrust laws of the United States are designed to preserve
competition by prohibiting monopolistic practices and agreements that
unreasonably restrict competition. In doing so, the antitrust laws define
certain boundaries of interaction between competitors, and among
buyers and sellers in the marketplace. Because trade and professional
associations are frequently associations of c ompetitors or of cus tomers
and suppliers, associations and their counsel must view the antitrust laws
and antitrust compliance through a somewhat different lens than the one
used when analyzing individual enterprise activities.
The antitrust laws do not stand as an obstacle t o appropri ate
association acti vities. Collaborations among members of trade and
professional associations are not only commonplace, but integral to the
U.S. economy. The courts and the antitrust enforcement agencies
recognize the intrinsic value of associations as a means for enhancing
competition, thereby contributing to the economy and the public interest.
Association activities run the gamut from collection and exchange of
information to standard-setting activities to establishing codes of
conduct to joint ventures in research and development or purchasing.
But although most of these collaborative business activities promote
efficiency and benefit consumers, some do not. For example, a
conspiracy to f ix production volumes by trade association members—a
type of competitor collaboration—is clearly anticompetitive and illegal
under the antitrust laws. Standard setting can confer many pro-
competitive benefits but also can raise antitrust concerns in certain
Where the line lies between legal and illegal behavior and be tween
reasonable (procompetitive) and unreasonable (anticompetitive) conduct
is the focus of thi s Handbook. It is designed to provide a t imely,
substantive, and practical guide to counselors desiring to minimize
antitrust risk and to educate associations and their members a nd
participants accordingly.

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